AAP upset with Cong upping ante over its MLAs’ disqualification

As it faces a crisis over imminent disqualification of 20 MLAs, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is upset over the aggressive campaign by Congress against it as leaders feels that it will affect the joint Opposition onslaught against BJP.

While Trinamool Congress, CPI(M) and Sharad Yadav-led JD(U) faction have come out in support of AAP, the Delhi Congress has left no stone unturned since the Election Commission recommendation to disqualify the MLAs became public and announced launching a protest programme against the Arvind Kejriwal-led government from Monday.

Egged on by Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken, the central leadership has so far kept AAP out of any formal Opposition grouping and resisted attempts of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and Yadav to bring Kejriwal on joint opposition platform.

A senior AAP leader said Congress was going “overboard” without understanding the “game plan” of BJP. “This move to disqualify MLAs comes just a year ahead of Lok Sabha polls and Congress should understand that opposition should stand together. The BJP is targeting Opposition parties and there is no point in talking about Opposition unity,” the leader said.

Banerjee on Friday itself announced her support while CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat denounced the EC recommendation as “undemocratic and selective in procedure and substance”. Yadav too upped the ante in favour of AAP, saying constitutional bodies were being “misused”. BJP-ally Shiv Sena too have now questioned the EC decision.

For Congress, it has a score to settle with the AAP as the latter’s high voltage anti-corruption campaign had cost the Congress the Delhi Assembly polls as well as the 2014 General Elections. Congress leaders also feel that aligning with AAP does not make any sense for them as AAP grew on its vote base in the capital city where the Grand Old Party is yet to regain a grip.

However, AAP has now tweaked its strategy and ready to align with a joint opposition to take on BJP. Though Congress did not make any effort to rope in AAP, it had gone with the joint opposition on several issues inside and outside Parliament, including during the Presidential elections. Kejriwal was in touch with top opposition leaders like Yechury, Banerjee and Yadav.

Kejriwal had indicated his willingness to come under the opposition umbrella as early as in April last year during a breakfast meeting with Kerala Chief Minister and senior CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jan 21, 2018)

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